A heartfelt film about growing up with an autistic brother, the strong love of the parents and the emotional journey of a teenager.
The Black Balloon
The Black Balloon was written and directed by the Australian filmmaker Elissa Down, and the plot reflects her experiences of growing up with two autistic brothers. It tells the story of the teenager Thomas Mollison (Rhys Wakefield) and his family, who have just had to move house yet again because of their father's army job. The mother, Maggie (Toni Collette), is heavily pregnant but still constantly looking after Thomas's autistic older brother Charlie (Luke Ford), who creates havoc and uses only sign language to communicate. When Maggie has to rest, Thomas is left in charge of his brother. He also has to settle into a new school and tries desperately to distance himself from his family, as he is frustrated and resentful of his brother's condition. Charlie attends a special school, and when he is bullied by local children Thomas reluctantly has to defend him. He wants his brother to be normal, and tries to teach him to talk. When he meets Jackie (Gemma Ward), young romance sparks, but he struggles to keep her away from the reality of his family life. It's a heartfelt film about the strong love of the parents, the pressures they endure, and the emotional journey Thomas goes on in order to accept his family. It is no Rain Man but it does show the true life situation of a family coping with a disability and with other people's ignorance.